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We know that while many employers understand the business value of hiring people with disabilities, it’s hard to find the right information and resources to help. For us, what was missing was up-to-date, practical, and easy-to-use advice – created by employers for employers – about how to effectively recruit, hire and retain employees with disabilities. We also know these tools have to work for both small and large businesses.
Take a deep dive with employers as they share their experiences with rolling out accessibility initiatives within their organizations – what worked, challenges faced, and lessons learned.

Adapting the Workplace

Conducting a Physical Workplace Assessment

Image of various accessibility symbols

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and BCLC have a commitment to diversity and inclusion. As part of this commitment, both workplaces initiated physical accessibility audits in their respective workplaces.

Co-op Programs & Internships

Work-Able: Graduate Internship Program

Photo of female employee working at her desk on a laptop

Work-Able is a 12-month paid internship program with the BC Public Service for recent post-secondary graduates (within the last three years) who self-identify as having a disability.

Co-op Programs & Internships

Accessibility Internship Program Changes Perceptions of Ability

Photo of police officers talking to each other while standing in the yard of the Port of Vancouver

Port of Vancouver

As part of that commitment to diversity, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority hosts an Accessibility Internship Program every year. The program offers one individual with disabilities an opportunity to develop work experience while meeting a pertinent business need.

Corporate Culture

Measuring Progress on Diversity and Inclusion

Woman writing in a book with a upward trending graph and ICBC's logo

Insurance Corporation British Columbia

ICBC’s vision is to be the leader in Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) in the public sector by 2020. To help achieve their vision, ICBC is tracking their progress on diversity and inclusion measures to understand their strengths and areas of opportunity.

Corporate Culture

Diversity & Inclusion Lunch ‘n Learns

Pacific Blue Cross

Pacific Blue Cross established a Diversity & Inclusion Committee in October 2017. One of their most successful workplace initiatives to-date has been the development of monthly “Lunch ‘n Learn” sessions, where employees discuss a variety of diversity topics, including: Unconscious Bias, Inclusive Language, Mindfulness in Conflict Resolution, and Ableist Language.

Corporate Culture

Creating a Diversity and Inclusion Commitment

BCLC staff member has his hand up while seated at a table talking

British Columbia Lottery Corporation

BCLC is committed to making diversity and inclusion a priority and see great benefit in working with other business leaders in our province on this important initiative. Their board and executive team created a diversity and inclusion statement to demonstrate their commitment to diversity and wanted to share their approach with other employers.

Corporate Culture

Introducing Neurodiversity Helped This Small Business Thrive

Picture of a Key Lime Pie from Gabi & Jules Bakery

Gabi & Jules

Gabi & Jules bakery strives to create an inclusive environment, motivated by the the owner’s eldest daughter, Juliana, having autism. The bakery strives to offer employment opportunities to individuals on the autism spectrum.

Corporate Culture

Creating a Diversity and Inclusion Program

BCAA Staff with there hands together in a circle, cheering.

British Columbia Automobile Association

In 2017, BCAA decided to formalize its Diversity and Inclusion Program. While diversity and inclusion have always been key features of BCAA’s culture, the organization felt that a more formal program would allow for more intentional strategies and evaluation, and would support their team to do even more to attract and retain a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Co-op Programs & Internships

Co-op Student Outreach Program leads to Permanent Hire

Photo of a long, curvy hallway at YVR Airport.

Vancouver Airport Authority

The Co-op student outreach program allowed YVR to shift internal and external perceptions of ability, meet a business need, and tap into a traditionally under-utilized segment of job seekers to build YVR’s pipeline.

Employee Supports

YVR’s Return to Work Program

A calendar sits on top of a laptop with a sticky note that reads 'return to work' with a pencil underneath it.

Vancouver Airport Authority

The Vancouver International Airport (YVR) has seen many benefits to a successful return to work program including: retaining experienced workers, engaged employees, better productivity, and reduced costs. This case study provides a summary of how the program is structured and was implemented.

Employee Supports

Nicolas’ Story: Business Analyst in Transformation

Nicolas Haddad stands in his office near a desk.

HSBC

Nicolas Haddad is a Business Analyst with HSBC in the Transformation Department. He is bi-lateral above the knee, and is a left arm amputee. The accommodations Nicolas has needed have been quite minimal, but have made a big impact on the work he does.

Employee Supports

Making Mental Health Awareness A Priority in the Workplace

Scrabble blocks spelling out the words Mental Health

Vancity

Vancity is dedicated to ensuring that mental health awareness is a priority for their organization. Vancity embarked on a number of initiatives surrounding mental health to help build their employees understanding of the issue.

Corporate Culture

Creating a Human Resources Strategy that Incorporates Diversity & Inclusion

Table with a 2018 calendar on it and post-it notes that say goal, plan, strategy, success.

Destination BC

Destination BC developed a human resources strategy that highlights how diversity and inclusion are fundamental in their commitment of building employee engagement, developing and recruiting talent, and supporting the health and wellness of all employees.

Hiring

Employment Opportunity Opens New Doors on the Downtown Eastside

Brad and Randy stand against a wall inside of Save On Meats, both smiling.

Save On Meats

Save On Meats is a local diner with a rich-history in Vancouver’s downtown eastside district. With the support of an organization called Open Door Group, they’ve been able to provide meaningful job opportunities to longtime friends Brad and Randy who used to live in poverty and previously faced barriers to employment.

Hiring

Arnold’s Story: Junior Corporate Video Editor

Arnold sits at his desk, looking back at the camera in his wheelchair while video editing software can be seen on his computer monitor.

Arnold Cheng went to UBC and received a BA in English Literature. He used that degree to work as an English Teacher in South Korea. Upon his return to Vancouver, he acquired a disability that required him to use a wheelchair. Arnold’s experience in looking for employment after acquiring a disability, changed dramatically.

Hiring

Contracting Neurodiverse IT Professionals for System Conversion

IT Professional at computer with a bunch of code on the wall behind him.

Vancity

Vancity was undertaking a large scale system conversion that required significant resources across the organization, and additional IT resources. Not having the sufficient resources in-house, Vancity worked with Focus Professional Services to contract individuals to complete this work.

Hiring

Autism at Work Program Provides Meaningful Employment

Photo of SAP employee looking at computer code on his monitors

SAP Labs Canada

The Autism at Work program began as a weekend project in Bangalore, India five years ago. The success of this project led to a company-wide goal of hiring 650 employees on the autism spectrum by 2020.

Hiring

Patricia’s Story: Project Manager in Compliance

Picture of Patricia Elgersma smiling near her computer.

HSBC

Patricia Elgersma started with the organization as an intern in the Human Resources department. She was an Accessibility Analyst hired to determine how accessible the bank was and make recommendations for improvements.

Hiring

Renu’s Story: Business Analyst in Transformation

Picture of Renu Sangha smiling.

HSBC

Renu Sangha has been with HSBC for two and a half years, currently as a Business Analyst in the Transformation group.  She came to HSBC in search of an opportunity that would help her grow in her career. Renu is deaf and uses sign language to communicate, she also utilizes an interpreter when needed.

Procurement

Procurement Strategy that Integrates Diversity & Inclusion

Female hands holding a tablet that reads 'Procurement' with other related words surrounding it in a word cloud.

Vancouver Airport Authority

YVR developed a procurement strategy that aligns with their organizational values of diversity and inclusion. Their procurement strategy gives preference to vendors who practice corporate social responsibility in a variety of areas that are important to YVR including accessibility, this is known as the Sustainable Supply Management Plan.

Training

Unconscious Bias Training for All Staff

Vancity

As part of Vancity’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, the organization rolled out unconscious bias training for all staff. The training was specifically aimed at creating awareness of the presence of unconscious bias when making people and business decisions, as well as how to mitigate these biases through developing habits and shifting behaviours.

Training

Unconscious Bias Training For Managers

Silhouette of people in business attire standing in a boardroom

Vancouver Airport Authority

In 2015, the Vancouver Airport Authority (YVR) conducted a needs assessment during their Employment Systems review. One of the recommendations presented was delivering Unconscious Bias training to their management team. They rolled out training for their managers and senior leaders and learned a great deal throughout the process.

Training

Supporting Managers with Mental Health Training

Silhouette of employee standing in front of a flipchart with 'mental health' written on it

BC Hydro

BC Hydro is ensuring that their leaders understand the role they play in creating a psychologically healthy working environment. With this in mind, they have made the decision to provide training to their managers around mental health and supports in the workplace.

Co-op Programs & Internships

Diversity Internship Program

Photo of the exterior of an HSBC location

HSBC

The Diversity Internship Program was designed to address a gap HSBC had in their workforce, based on the available labour market associated with persons with disabilities and indigenous people.

Co-op Programs & Internships

Success in Creating a High School Internship Program

Picture of the top of the Vancity Head Office in Vancouver.

Vancity

Vancity partnered with the Vancouver School Board on a project focused on creating inclusive opportunities for high school students with diverse-abilities.

Hiring

How Job Carving Can Support Your Business Needs

Patrick Gallagher and Maridel Deguzman sitting at their desks talking and laughing.

Vancity

Vancity implemented a project at 22 Vancity branches that involved job carving, a process that “carves out” existing responsibilities from other positions to create a new one.

Hiring

Ground-Breaking Program Integrates People with Autism into the Workforce

SAP legal compliance analyst Matthew Huang sitting on a seat. Next to him is a small table with glasses on it.

SAP Labs Canada

SAP has met their goal with 13 Autism at Work program participants working in the Vancouver office after their fourth wave of hiring in May 2017.

Co-op Programs & Internships

Internship for High-School Students With Disabilities Meets Short-Term Business Needs

Photo of Vancity employee helping a member from behind her desk.

Vancity

Vancity implemented a High School Student Internship Program for students with disabilities to obtain work experience while meeting Vancity’s business needs.

Corporate Culture

New Diversity Team “Insures” Inclusion

Picture of the outside of the Pacific Blue Cross Headquarters in Burnaby, BC.

Pacific Blue Cross

Pacific Blue Cross created a new Diversity Team, who will set the standard for their colleagues, constantly thinking of new and innovative ways their staff can be more inclusive.

Co-op Programs & Internships

Steven’s Story: Co-op Program Leads to Full-Time Employment

Steven Woo walking with friends and his assistance dog, Horatio

Vancouver Airport Authority

Working with the Disability Resource Centres at various post-secondary partner institutions, YVR started a pilot that explicitly encouraged co-op applicants with disabilities to apply and voluntarily self-declare.

Employee Supports

Mike’s Story: Cost Sharing Addiction Recovery Program & Back to Work Supports

Mike Ferguson standing in work yard with safety gear on.

BC Hydro

BC Hydro supports employees who are experiencing physical or mental challenges. An example of this is through their Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Program and Back to Work Supports.

Hiring

An Alternative to Behavioural-Based Interviews

Photo of Vancity Employee at a desk, smiling at a Vancity client who appears to have vision loss.

Vancity

Vancity has piloted working interviews as an alternative to behavioural-based interviews to better assess a candidate’s suitability for the job.

Employee Supports

A Network of Employees Focused on Mental Health Awareness

EY Logo

EY

EY’s employees have created a network focused on mental health awareness. This group aims to provide employees with information on and support for coping with mental health challenges and stress.

Employee Supports

Supporting Employees with Addiction through Cost-Sharing Recovery Program

Photo of two BC Hydro employees smiling and laughing.

BC Hydro

BC Hydro’s Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Program supports employees through cost-sharing, and implementing supports to ensure a successful transition back into the workforce upon return from the program.

Employee Supports

Employee Resource Group Builds Awareness and Provides Connection and Support

Photo of ICBC Building from the outside.

Insurance Corporation British Columbia

ICBC’s Employee Resource Group raises awareness about the various forms of disability: visible and invisible, physical and mental, and provides those living with a disability a way to connect with each other.

Hiring

Workplace Inclusion Pilot Fulfills Branch Needs with Neurodiverse Employees

Photo of a woman in a power wheelchair talking to a man with a cane in the lobby of Vancity Head Office.

Vancity

Vancity wanted to focus their branch staff on customer care. To support this, they hired neurodiverse individuals, many of them on the autism spectrum, to be responsible for providing administrative relief. Vancity has experienced the positive effects on their business by hiring individuals with disabilities.